Quarterback is the most disproportionately important position in sports. Teams have demonstrated that in the draft for a while now, with teams reaching every year to fill the need as opposed to taking the best player available at other positions.
In most sports, that’s not the right move, but you can make the case for it in the NFL because if you don’t have an average quarterback, it’s nearly impossible to be successful. So the value of an average quarterback is arguably greater than the value of an above-average player at other positions; that’s borne out in draft moments like last year’s Bears trade for Mitchell Trubisky.
This year, though, was a parade of reaches, with four quarterbacks being taken in the top ten for the first time ever. Cleveland started the night off by taking Baker Mayfield. The Jets followed at #3 with Sam Darnold, the Bills traded up to the seventh pick to take Josh Allen, and then the Cardinals moved up to #10 to take UCLA’s Josh Rosen. Those are four quarterbacks with major question marks both on and off the field.
Mayfield is short and has a drunken confrontation with police in his background. Rosen put a few questionable performances on tape, and his own cthrewoach criticized him in a weird situation. Darnold threw a ton of interceptions, and Josh Allen couldn’t really throw it to anyone at Wyoming. (Oh, and news of Allen having tweeted the n-word among other questionable things while he was in high school broke last night, too.)
None of these players are prospects at the level of Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck. They’re probably not at the same level as last year’s top passers, DeShaun Watson and Trubisky. But despite the overall weakness of the QB class, this was the year four went in the top ten.
Of course, Lamar Jackson wasn’t one of those top ten picks despite arguably having the best college career of any quarterback in the draft. (Definitely a merit-based thing, nothing to see here folks, move along.)
The NFL Draft, everyone!